'SHUT THE F**K UP!' The moment Linus Torvalds ruined a dev's year
Top tip: Don't break users' apps
A Linux kernel developer found himself in a perfect storm of Linus Torvalds' sharp tongue and his intolerance for bad code.
Red Hat's Mauro Carvalho Chehab was told by Linux kernel chief Torvalds to "shut the f**k up" and fix his "approach to kernel programming" after Chehab passed off a bug in the kernel as something at fault in Pulseaudio and other third-party applications.
Torvalds called the handling of the flaw "shameful". The bug caused an
ioctl() system call to return an inappropriate error code for the operation requested; software using this function would come unstuck as a result of this unexpected value from the kernel.
"Mauro, SHUT THE F**K UP!" the outraged Finn opened in an email to the kernel development mailing list, although edited here for decency.
"It's a bug all right - in the kernel. How long have you been a maintainer? And you still haven't learnt the first rule of kernel maintenance? … Fix your approach to kernel programming."
Torvalds was primarily furious that the core of the Linux operating system that he founded was, thanks to a dodgy blob of code, confusing the Pulseaudio application by dishing out the wrong information.
He added: "We particularly don't break user space with TOTAL CRAP."
Torvalds, who says he is now so busy overseeing the open-source Linux project he can't find the time to write new code, vowed to personally apply the fix for the bug. Chehab is otherwise tasked with maintaining the operating system's underlying media-playing code.
Last year Torvalds insisted he was a mild-mannered man of peace who is mischaracterised as angry because only his outbursts are reported.
But the dad-of-three admitted it's not in his nature to be overly nurturing and gentle when dealing with Linux development matters and noted he tends to get involved in issues at the gasket-blowing stage.
"I get involved later on and say: 'Christ this is horribly ugly code, how could you ever accept this?' That's the involvement I mostly have, and it can be negative and somewhat good at times," the first-man of Linux said in November. ®
But Mauro broke a fundamental rule of Linux kernel programming, and then tried to shift the blame elsewhere.
Well you say it is bad management but I'd be fine with it.
I honestly can't stand working with delicate little flowers who need their hands held and their egos stroked the whole time.
If I balls up I don't mind a bit of a shout - get things out in the open, get them sorted and get on.
If Torvalds had done this to me I'd be embarrassed that he had to but I wouldn't resent him for having done so. (Of course if I knew I was better than him . . .)
The idea that there's one management style to rule them all is tosh.
Sure, if Mauro was in any way Linus' employee. Which he isn't. He can't take him aside and give him a talking to, or sack him. The only nuclear option he has is to beat on him in public, so that his employers take notice.
OTOH, there is no need for someone like Linus to take that sort of tone on-list. He could have just said something along the lines of "Mauro, please re-check this, as I am convinced you are wrong in this", which would be just as painful for a senior dev to receive.